Unless you blacked out during the entirety of 2018 (we’re not judging), you’ve probably heard the term “self-care” thrown around once or twice. What does it mean, anyway? An elaborate skincare routine? A hot bath after a long day? A Saturday night spent gorging on pizza and a tub of ice cream?
Simply put, self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own health, wellbeing and happiness (have no fear, pizza lovers, we still like to think your slice covers all the necessary food groups).
Self-care, in theory, sounds like a pretty beautiful thing. Who wouldn’t want to take care of their health and happiness on the reg?
But what happens when this little thing called life gets in the way of necessary “you-time”? Hey, we 100% support hours and hours of time dedicated to Y-O-U, but self-care doesn’t always come in the form of state-of-the-art spas and long weekend retreats. Instead, we like to think there’s another way to get your fix on a limited timeframe.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not jumping off the self-care bandwagon anytime soon, we’re just taking a quick detour to the expressway, so to speak. And trust us, we’d rather get a little bit of self-indulgence than nothing at all.
That’s why we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to easily incorporate self-care into your routine without sacrificing all the other priorities on your to-do list (because you have a life to live).
1. Hitting the gym? Not happening.
Don’t think that you have to spend a full 30 minutes in the gym to get in a good workout. Exercise is not only a must for your physical wellbeing, but it also releases endorphins that help maintain your mental health and reduce stress.
Here are a few examples to increase your physical activity without actually hitting the gym (they’ll only take a few minutes!):
- Walk whenever possible. Going out for the night? Skip the Uber ride and walk instead. Walk your kids to school, walk to the library, walk to the store and take the stairs whenever possible. It really does add up.
- Play like a kid. Run around at the park, play tag, chase your kids, laugh, have a dance party, go on a hike, ride your bike. Exercise does not have to be monotonous—it should be spontaneous and fun!
- Sprint. Try switching up the long-distance running game and try sprinting, instead. Sprinting once a week is not only great for your cardiovascular health, but it’s been know to build endurance and strength and accelerate fat loss. Plus, it saves time.
2. Time with loved ones is time for you.
The value of healthy relationships is one of the best forms of self-care. Make the effort to connect. Our daily interactions with those we care about can be the most therapeutic parts of our day, and they should be more than just a simple “like” on social media. Go out of your way to help out friends, give compliments, have joyful conversations, give hand-written birthday cards and notes and give small, meaningful gifts. Remember the importance of quality over quantity. You don’t have to have tons of friendships. Just a few are enough and well worth the effort.
3. The great outdoors.
If you’re like the rest of the population, you probably need to get outside more. Why? Daily exposure to the outdoors has been shown to reverse mental fatigue. Involve your kids, too! When the weather permits, have your kids go outside and play after school for at least a half hour or more. Not only does it help wash away the stress of the day, it also improves their moods, boosts creativity and encourages physical activity. We guarantee spending some time outside will give you more patience, calmness and focus.
4. What do you really want to do?
Make time to do things you truly enjoy. With long lists of to-dos, piles of laundry and never-ending deadlines, it’s no wonder we don’t have enough time to do the things we really want to do. But this is the difference between living life and simply existing. Carving out the time to spend on things you are truly passionate about can make you feel more fulfilled. So whatever it takes to find the time—whether letting the laundry go unfolded, getting take-out or simply saying no to obligations that are unnecessary—find the time to do things that interest you and are completely enjoyable. Make this a priority and don’t feel guilty, it will make you a better spouse, friend, parent and an all-around happier you. Shifting your focus and priorities can be done on limited time if you eliminate the things that don’t matter.
5. The life-changing magic of 30 extra minutes.
Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you usually do. It may not sound like a lot, but having a consistent bedtime and giving yourself a few extra minutes can really make a big difference. Feeling rested the next day can lead to more energy, intellectual function, alertness and an improved mood. Making sleep a priority and even trying to sneak in a bit more is always a good idea.
6. A healthy diet is a non-negotiable.
Automate healthy eating as much as possible, but certainly don’t feel like you have to have an elaborate meal plan every week with exciting new options. It’s okay to rotate the same types of meals and only change things up a few times a month. Sure, maybe it sounds boring at first, but if you know you are going to feed your family chicken on Mondays, fish on Wednesdays and pasta on Fridays, it’s easy to plan and shop. To switch things up, vary your fruit and veggie options based on what’s in season and try to eat local dairy and grass-fed whenever possible. You can also try out a new dish a few times a month on a less stressful day like Sunday, when there’s more time to prepare it.
What’s your favorite way to self-care on a limited timeframe? Leave a comment below!